Accountant knows that challenges are meant to be overcome

Yenny Foulston came to Canada with her husband in 2001 one in hopes of finding a new environment to raise their baby boy. Back home in Venezuela, she was an accountant in the oil and gas industry for eight years.

Like many others arriving in a new, foreign place, Yenny did not have many friends and family in Calgary. She also couldn’t communicate well in English. Not knowing where to start, she searched on the internet for people who could give immigrants like her a hand. First she visited Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA) where she learned about services and resources for newcomers, such as places to meet people and where to improve her English. From CIWA, she went to Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC) to have her English assessed. ISC found a LINC school with a daycare for her, so she could focus on improving her English during class.

As Yenny studied English, she began looking for accounting jobs, but she noticed a common occurrence. All the job descriptions she found required knowledge of specific accounting software and Canadian taxes, as well as Canadian work experience. Yenny didn’t have any of these requirements. She tried submitting applications anyway, but unsurprisingly, no employers called her. Needing to find work, she thought about switching careers. At one point, she even considered photography, but knew in the end she wanted to utilize the wealth of skills and knowledge she had as an accountant.

Yenny knew many things were against her, but she never felt sorry for herself. She set a plan for herself and got to work. First, she decided to volunteer to gain Canadian experience and local references. Yenny volunteered at the Red Cross doing data entry, and also at the Canada Revenue Agency for two tax seasons to help people file income taxes. Volunteering for the Canada Revenue Agency also familiarized her with Canadian taxes. Through volunteering, she also learned about the difference in workplace culture between Venezuela and Canada. For example, back home, it was common to hug, touch, and kiss at work. In Canada, she learned that the definition of personal space was different and that these actions were not appropriate.

Meanwhile, Yenny found work at a local Mexican market where she made burritos. This was far from her dream job as an accountant, but she knew she needed to start somewhere. After about a year, she asked the owner of the market for some accounting tasks and was given entry level accounting duties in the store. Eventually, she obtained an excellent recommendation letter from the owner, which helped her get an entry level accounting role at the City of Calgary.

While working, Yenny pursued her accreditation and became a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants. Later on, she worked to become a Certified Management Accountant in 2004. Now Yenny is a Business Strategist and has been working at the City of Calgary for 13 years.

If Yenny were to give advice to immigrants hoping to re-establish their careers in Canada, she would say: “Ask lots of questions, do not play the ‘victim’ role, don’t sell yourself short. Believe in yourself and go after your dreams.”